#3: 127 HOURS
Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara
Complex co-sign: Plots can’t get any simpler: A guy gets trapped under a boulder for five days and has to cut off his arm. It seems like the simplest Saw trap yet, one based on real-life hiker Aron Rolston’s now-infamous survival tactic. But in the hands of Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire), a director who has long been adept with blending character drama with extreme thrills, 127 Hours is an emotional whirlwind. The film’s not-so-secret weapon is James Franco, an ever-fascinating actor giving a brilliant performance as Rolston. In the end, 127 Hours is so much more than a film about self-mutilation. That’s not to say the severance scene is soft—it makes the entirety of Saw 3D look tamer than Twilight.